Illinois residents can no longer see their doctor’s detailed records as the State took the information off its website. Previously, people could see information about doctors in the state, including their medical malpractice records. Removal of this information has jeopardized patient safety. Patients can unintentionally seek treatment from doctors who have historically harmed patients when evidence of physician negligence is hidden.
The State’s website contained information on whether a doctor had been convicted of a crime, been fired by a hospital, or made a medical malpractice payment in the last five years. The site received more than 100,000 weekly visitors, and provided patients with crucial information about doctors so they could make informed decisions on who they wanted to see. Patients and Chicago medical malpractice lawyers found the information illuminating.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation took the information off the site, much to the disappointment of interested residents. The only information currently available on the site is whether a doctor has been disciplined by the agency. The State Medical Society defended the removal of the records by saying it was done to avoid draining the State’s limited resources.
A CBS News investigation found that State medical boards, which almost entirely consist of physicians, usually fail to discipline doctors who have committed medical malpractice. Doctors can have multiple malpractice claims without the medical boards taking any disciplinary action.
Patients who want to know more about their doctors can look for information from medical associations, insurers, or commercial websites. These, however, are all controlled by the doctors’ fellow medical professionals.
Having access to a doctor’s complete information allowed people to protect themselves proactively against medical errors. A Johns Hopkins study found that nearly 250,000 patients in the United States die annually because of medical errors. With medical malpractice records now behind closed doors in Illinois, patients’ ability to make informed decisions about their healthcare has become limited. Patients can now unknowingly sign up for treatment with facilities and doctors who have a history of negligence.